Garth Brooks fiasco: advice from top consumer expert

Country star Brooks
Country star Brooks

Garth Brooks fans hit by the fiasco surrounding his upcoming Dublin gigs should by entitled to money back for tickets – but recouping hotel or travel costs may be trickier.

That is the view of a top Trading Standards officer following Dublin City Council’s decision to allow only three of the five planned gigs at Croke Park later this month.

The council permitted shows at the venue on July 25, 26 and 27, but barred them on July 28 and 29 – although the star himself said he either wants to play all dates, or none.

Yesterday Jimmy Hughes, deputy chief inspector of Trading Standards, said it was the biggest consumer issue of its kind that he could recall on the entire island.

“We haven’t had anything similar to this before in the south of Ireland, or indeed from here,” he said.

“There are an awful lot of people who have been booked to go to it and at the present time we don’t know whether it’s on or it’s off.”

Asked what the upshot is likely to be for consumers, he said if shows simply do not happen then there is a guaranteed right to to get ticket money back.

For travel and accommodation bookings, refunds should be available – but only if the bookings had “some kind of connection with the concert”.

For example this could include travelling on a bus laid on specially for the gig, or a hotel booked as part of a package.

But he said “if you simply booked a hotel or travel, I have awful bad news for you – you don’t have the rights”.

There has been a suggestion that different venues could host the star, but if concerts are later switched to a different date or a different venue, Mr Hughes said ticketholders should still be entitled the chance for a refund.

However, he suggested that the size of any changes may influence this – such as if the gigs are moved to a venue very close by, for example.

When it comes to compensation for inconvenience or time lost from work, that would be “exceptionally unusual”, he said, but recommended consumers take private advice on this if they wish.

Aiken PR, which is handling the media on behalf of Aiken Promotions, had previously been asked why all 400,000 tickets had been sold in February when Dublin council had not given any permission for any of the gigs – something which was applied for in April.

Yesterday, it issued a statement saying: “Aiken Promotions followed the licensing process as laid down under the current regulations.

“It is the standard practice in Ireland to inform the licensing authority, then to announce an event and then to put the tickets on sale in advance of a detailed licence application begin submitted.”